Medical

Anti-depressant found to promote healing in osteoarthritic joints

Anti-depressant found to promo...
Scientists have found a promising new pathway in their pursuit of cures for osteoarthritis, finding that an approved anti-depressant can halt or even reverse the degeneration of joint cartilage
Scientists have found a promising new pathway in their pursuit of cures for osteoarthritis, finding that an approved anti-depressant can halt or even reverse the degeneration of joint cartilage
View 2 Images
Scientists have found a promising new pathway in their pursuit of cures for osteoarthritis, finding that an approved anti-depressant can halt or even reverse the degeneration of joint cartilage
1/2
Scientists have found a promising new pathway in their pursuit of cures for osteoarthritis, finding that an approved anti-depressant can halt or even reverse the degeneration of joint cartilage
Diagram depicting the potential of anti-depressant paroxetine in treating osteoarthritis
2/2
Diagram depicting the potential of anti-depressant paroxetine in treating osteoarthritis

As a degenerative disease that gradually wears away at the joint cartilage and causes great pain for sufferers, scientists are searching far and wide for potential cures for osteoarthritis. For researchers at Pennsylvania State University, that search has led them to an approved anti-depressant drug, which they’ve found interferes in the chain of events leading to the condition, halting its progress and even promoting the regeneration of cartilage.

The breakthrough that may provide the first-ever treatment for osteoarthritis centers on an enzyme called G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2). The Penn State team had established through earlier research that the activity of this enzyme plays a key role in the way cells proliferate in heart and kidney disease, which has some parallels with the way the pathological growth of cartilage cells leads to osteoarthritis. Scientists call this process chondrocyte hypertrophy, but have been unable to pinpoint the reasons behind it.

The Penn State researchers may now have found an answer. They started by exploring the activity of GRK2 in patients suffering from osteoarthritis or acute joint injuries and found high levels of the enzyme in their cartilage cells, or chondrocytes. It was found to be playing a central role in the deterioration of the cartilage, errantly leading the cells to destroy the surrounding cartilage rather than keeping it healthy.

“In other words, the cells receive a bad signal to destroy cartilage,” explains Fadia Kamal, assistant professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation at Penn State College of Medicine.

Next up, the researchers engineered mice to be missing the gene for GRK2 in cartilage cells, finding that it prevented chondrocyte hypertrophy, halted progression of osteoarthritis and even promoted cartilage regeneration. In another experiment, they treated the mice with an FDA-approved anti-depressant called paroxetine, which is known to also be a potent GRK2 inhibitor. It had the same effect.

“We found that paroxetine could return cartilage cells back to a normal state and preserve the cartilage surface,” says Kamal.

Diagram depicting the potential of anti-depressant paroxetine in treating osteoarthritis
Diagram depicting the potential of anti-depressant paroxetine in treating osteoarthritis

Follow-up experiments on cultured osteoarthritic cartilage harvested from patients undergoing knee replacement surgery again showed that paroxetine could halt chondrocyte hypertrophy and the degradation of cartilage. In light of these promising results, the scientists hope to soon gain approval from the FDA for clinical trials.

“If this trial works, we will have found a new solution to an age-old problem of joints in the body wearing out because of cartilage destruction and loss,” says Kamal. “We hope to intervene with this disease-modifying treatment for the benefit of our patients.”

The research was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Source: Pennsylvania State University

9 comments
9 comments
sidmehta
If depression can affect the kidney, the heart, and now knee joints, then it probably affects a lot more. Which once again shows the massive influence of the mind on the body.
Kevin Ritchey
I tried using Paxil many years ago and found it had the opposite effect on my depression. Subsequently, I will never be using it for anything. Have yet to find a serotonin reuptake inhibitor that works properly without deleterious side effects.
Bill S.
My mother suffered from serious depression for most of her life. She endured such Draconian measures as electric shock treatments (which still continue to this day). She was on a multitude of anti-depressant drugs, none of them worked. Then came along Paxil, and after being on that drug for two months, she because unrecognizable (personality wise) and about a week later she committed suicide. Great drug.
Nelson Hyde Chick
My right knee could use this stuff.
Marlen
I never had much luck with anti-depressants (and I tried a lot of them) but I found vitamin supplementation quite effective. I expect personalized nutrition will make anti-depressants largely obsolete, so it's nice to hear they might be good for something else!
Oldpal1
Well, if one's arthritic knees are causing one to be depressed, it's a pretty sure thing that anti-depressant meds have a multi-purposed role in managing the condition. But, the downside of anti-depressant drugs has to be understood better. What are the long term side effects of anti-depressant meds on the system as a whole?
Dan
I tried a few anti-depressants too. Then I was switched to Venafaxine HCL 75MG every 24 hours and they work great. They help me get to sleep with no nightmares like some. Everyday is just another day without being slow or depressed about anything. They are great but takes about 2 week or less to start working. I was told that I could take more, but I don't need to. Not much of anything bothers me anymore or doesn't last long at all. I highly recommend it.
michael_dowling
My co-worker has osteoarthritis of the hip. I should tell him about this. I guess he would have to find a rheumatologist who is willing to prescribe this off-label.
Eric Blenheim
Paroxetine contains fluorine, which is fluoride, fluoride being the ionic form of fluorine. Fluoride happens to be one of the most toxic and carcinogenic elements known to man. Long term consumption of fluoride actually leads to conditions called skeletal fluorosis and dental fluorosis.